How to effectively reduce your waste and be more sustainable

Ciao, welcome back to my blog!

Today I am going to share with you how to effectively reduce your waste and be more sustainable.

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Since I embraced a minimalist lifestyle as well as trying to be more frugal, I started to pay more attention to the environment as a consequence. Decluttering can be wasteful and despite, being a great tool to get rid of the unnecessary, it showed me that my poor choices have a huge impact on the planet as well.

Raise your hand if you hate taking out the rubbish.

I do: that's why it is one of my boyfriend's chores.

I am shocked by the monstrous amount of waste that we produce every single day. Last year, I noticed that we were struggling to keep our rubbish in the house when we have the collection from the council two days a week. I don't know you guys, but they were never enough for us and we are just a couple. After two days, our bin was already full again.

It might seem selfish and stupid, but that's when I began to make more sustainable choices for the environment.

I did some research, read a lot of blogs, watched tons of documentaries and I have learned some very practical tips that I would like to share with you to reduce our waste. I now am ashamed of the old me, when I think how much stuff I used to irresponsibly throw away without a second thought.

That's the main method I am following right now:

1) Reduce: Using up what you already have instead of buying new

Think about that ice cream plastic container: instead of throwing it away, use it to store food or organise your small items in a drawer. That glass jar from the jam you ate: the same thing.

2)Using packaging options that aren't plastic

Plastic is downcycled while glass, bamboo, stainless steel and cardboard are recyclable.

3)Zero: Refill or buying products with no packaging at all

Opting for no packaging is the ultimate level to avoid waste.

It is a long journey and I am still working to make some of the swaps that I am listing below. The hardest part for me is the beauty section, as I am obsessed with anything skincare related. Some of the items are more expensive and sometimes it is hard to let go of your favourite cosmetic brand to shop for something that you don't know if you are going to like.

But these changes are necessary to make this world a better place.

I am aware that it is not going to happen overnight but I am determined to make my part.

Cancel unnecessary mail and go paperless

Piles and piles of bills, bank statements, letters of all sorts, receipts, which means loads of paper in the bin. Going paperless is convenient and better for the environment. Bonus: no more losing bills or throwing away shop receipts by mistake when everything is saved online and in your inbox!

Store chopped vegetables into glass jars to make them last more:

This is one of my absolute favourite tips to prolong the life of my vegetables. It happens to everyone, no matter how careful you are, to find rotten food in the fridge and I hate it. I hate waste in general.

I found that most veggies can be stored in a glass jar full of water. I immediately tried it with celery, carrots and leeks and I was impressed by the result. Bonus: your fridge will be incredibly tidy and organised so you will find everything in a second. The only side effect is that you need to clean and cut everything right after your shopping but it is totally worth it in my opinion.


They are rich in calcium, so I found a great recipe to make eggshell water for houseplants here.

Veggie scraps

Store-bought stock is full of salt and nasty stuff so I decided to make my own. It is actually super easy and quick and it reduces drastically the amount of food waste, which is what we would like to achieve here. Find the procedure here.

If you love gardening, another great way to recycle kitchen scraps is to use to prepare good quality fertiliser to nourish your plants.

An innovative method of composting is called bokashi and it has become very popular lately. It is done by adding Bokashi bran, which basically ‘pickles’ your kitchen scraps to bring it to a pre-compost state.

Find out more info about it and how to do it in this brilliant article by Gabrielle on The poteger project.

Coffee grounds

I am a huge fan of coffee and I use what's left for a DIY anti-cellulite body scrubs adding coconut oil or as a natural sink drainer.

Banana peels

They are amazing to clean dirty shoes and your plant leaves. You can also use them to fertilise your garden (I use it to give a boost to my indoor plants once in a while): the recipe of a super easy DIY banana peel fertiliser for the garden here.

Apple cores

Make apple juice by filling a pot with water an inch above the cores, boil for 30 minutes and then strain.

Citrus peels

Orange, lime, lemon, grapefruit peels can be stored in a glass jar with white vinegar for two weeks and then the liquid can be used as a powerful multipurpose cleaner that really smells good.

Drink tap water or invest in a filter jug:

No more plastic bottle, please. I don't like tap water either, but I filter it and it is much better. A great alternative to replace fizzy drinks and juices, be creative and add some fruits or herbs to your water to improve the taste.

My favourite recipes are:

  • berries, mint and lemon

  • ginger and lemon

  • orange, mint and lemon

  • cucumber, basil and lemon

Rely on reusable glass containers

Milk bottles, glass jars and so on from store-bought items can be cleaned and reused to store food making your pantry more organised. This is even more important when you are buying loose food, which is also a great idea to avoid unnecessary packaging.

If you really need a new container, better to opt for a glass one with bamboo lid

Shop local and buy loose food

I am a huge supporter of local markets and shops as I believe they offer a better service and they have loose seasonal food, not wrapped in plastic.

Also, I enjoy the human relationship you can have with them rather than just browsing in endless and cold supermarkets aisles. I still shop in my local supermarket from time to time when I can't find what I am looking for but it is 10%-20% of my shopping.

Swap teabags with loose leaf tea, seeds or flowers.

Bring your own bag

No need to comment on this one. I personally bought a trolley like a proper granny years ago because it is more spacious and practical for me. It is also foldable so it won't take a lot of space in the flat.

No need to comment on this one. I personally bought a trolley like a proper granny years ago because it is more spacious and practical for me. It is also foldable so it won't take a lot of space in the flat.

Bee wax instead of foil, which is not biodegradable.

Plastic-free beauty

I lately realised that beauty is the second responsible for plastic waste in my bin.

I then started to make more homemade face masks, body scrubs and body lotions on my own with natural ingredients from what I have in the pantry and in the fridge (I am going to make a post about that real soon with the best recipes).

If DIY is not floating your boat, there are many more eco-friendly brands that are banning packaging such as Lush, just to mention the most famous and popular one but nowadays there are more and more options available from local brands, even from Amazon.

The best part of solid cosmetics is that you can bring them with you when you are travelling!

Below you can find my favourite brands:

Naturtint 2in1 Shampoo & conditioning bar

Ethique Pinkalicious Shampoo bar for normal hair

Faith in nature Dragon fruit shampoo bar

Ethique solid conditioner mini

Earth Kind organic oats conditioning bar

Natural, refillable deodorant from Wild

Swap tampons with a menstrual cup

1 tampon every 6 hours = 4 tampons per day x 5 days of a period = 20tampons per cycle x 456 periods = 9,120tampons. That's the average consumption of tampons a woman will use in her life. A tampon takes 500-800 years to break down in the landfill.

I am not going to be part of this anymore. I bought a menstrual cup and I will never go back! It is such a life-changing thing: 12 hours of protection and absolutely NO LEAKS! I don't know why on earth I didn't try this sooner in my life!

Swap cotton pads and wet wipes for face cloths

Say no to disposable cutlery and straws.

If you are often eating out, bring with you a set of cutlery and avoid plastic.

Bring a reusable travel cup and stainless steel bottle with you at all times

No paper towels: go back to cotton cloth

Cloth napkins remember me of my childhood. I never used paper towels in Italy because we have the tradition of setting the table properly with a cute table cloth and matching napkins all the time, even for breakfast. It is a great habit that I want to keep while in London as it adds a nice touch to my meals.

I use old t-shirts and towels to make reusable cloth/rags to clean the house with.

Eco-friendly Loofah or silicone instead of plastic sponges

Common sponges have a very short life period and they are usually very gross. Loofah is 100% biodegradable while silicone will last forever, so in the long term, it is also making you save money.

Silicone food bags instead of plastic containers:

I have tried glass containers with a bamboo lid but they are heavy to carry.

I kept them to store food at home but I bought some silicone food bags to bring lunch to work.

They are amazing indeed: airtight and leak-proof (I can even bring soup to work without worrying about spilling it in my bag).

Thank you for reading my post today, I hope you find it interesting and useful.

I definitely didn't want to be judgmental and preachy, because everyone is free to do whatever feels right but at the same time I wanted to encourage to start making some of these swaps as I know you will be proud of yourself and I am sure that it will be motivated to do more for our beautiful planet.

Want more of my zero waste hacks?

More effective tips to reduce everyday waste